I mean, I do it pretty often in my real life, but I don't have any recollection of some sort of entry, here on my journal, about books that might (or might not) have left an impression on me.
I think this is kind of odd... today then, I decided to write something about this book I recently finished: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Being an hopeless romantic I thought that just the title: The History of Love was a pretty good reason for me to stop doing whatever I was doing and start reading it. And it actuality was. After I finished it (it took me 5 days. I was reading it everywhere) I wanted to read it all over again!
I found this book the same way I find everything else... I was on the internet, looking for something completely different and I find this quote:
“Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle. Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field, from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, and they parted with leaves in their hair.
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
This was just beautiful so I looked for some more and I was expecting more of the same kind but they were different so I became even more intrigued so I took a look at the plot and, eventually, I decided to buy it. Since I was very curious I bought it in a kindle format and I started it... A couple of days later I bought the paperback version because if I like a book I like to enjoy it completely and - call me old fashion - the best way to enjoy a book is holding it.
“At the end, all that's left of you are your possessions. Perhaps that's why I've never been able to throw anything away. Perhaps that's why I hoarded the world: with the hope that when I died, the sum total of my things would suggest a life larger than the one I lived.”
The History of Love is the story of a man, Leo Gursky, a polish-jew wannabe writer who, at the age of 10, falls in love with a girl: Alma Mereminski. Ten years later Alma's father, who's fearing the news concerning fascist Germany, send his daughter in America in order to save her. Not long after that, the Germans invade Poland and, after two years of hiding, Leo goes to America to be reunite with his one true love. He finds her, but Alma is married now and she have two children and one of them, Isaac, is Leo's. Alma tried in these two years to contact him but she had no luck and now it is too late. Leo is destroyed by the shocking news. Not only he lost the love of his life but he will never be part of his child's life. Years past by and Leo becomes a lonely 80 year old man who waits for his death. Alma is dead and Leo keep tracks of his son who has become a famous writer. One day, on the newspaper, he reads that his son died.
On the other side of New York a 15-years-old girl: Alma Singer (named Alma after a book called "The History of Love" by Zvi Litvinoff) cancer took her father away from her and she is trying to find a way to help her mother recover from her depression. One day, her mother receives a letter from a man named Jacob Marcus who requests that she translate a book: "The History of Love". The request makes Alma's mother suspicious at first and then happy and Alma sees this as an opportunity for her mother to fall in love again so she starts writing - under her mother's name - letters to Jacob Marcus. When the letters stop before her mother completes the translation of the book, Alma decides to find Jacob.
Unknown to Leo is that one of the book he wrote in his youth had been "stolen" and published but under the name of Zvi Litvinoff, who copied the book thinking Leo was killed in Poland. Zvi felt so guilty for copying his friend book - in order to make a better impression on Rosa, his soon-to-be wife - that he added his friend’s stolen obituary as the last chapter.
In the meantime, Alma starts her search for Jacob Marcus and she take notes about clues in her diary. She concludes that the Alma in the book is real and decides to find her. She finds out that Alma is now dead for five years but she has a son who is a famous writer. Alma starts reading Isaac bestselling book and she finds that the main character's name is Jacob Marcus so she realizes that Isaac Moritz is the one who hired her mother to translate the History of Love. Alma leaves a note on Isaac’s door asking who the writer of the novel is but she doesn't know that Isaac stopped writing to her/her mother because he is dead.
Bird, Almas's brother finds Alma’s diary and , confused by the clues his sister wrote start thinking that Alma has being adopted and her father's last name could be Mereminski or Moritz (The last name of Alma Mereminski's husband). Isaac’s brother finds Alma's note on Isaac door and he calls her to answer her question. He knows that the real autor of the History of Love is in fact Gursky, but Bird answers the telephone and now suspects that Leopold Gursky is Alma's real father. He decides to set up a meeting with Alma and Leo sending both of them a letter.
When the two receive the letter regarding their meeting, both are confused: Alma tries to discover which of the people she met during her searches could have sent her the note, while Leo comes to believe it was Alma who sent him the note, despite her being dead.
Leo settles himself on a park bench, waiting for Alma to appear. Alma waits as well but when she is ready to go back home, thinking that the meeting was actually a joke she notice an old man with a pin with his name written on it on his jacket. She introduces herself as Alma. Leo at first believes that she is his Alma from the past and that she is really just in his imagination even if this Alma does not look like his Alma. He starts to talk to her and Alma starts putting all the pieces together and she finds out that he is the man who wrote The History of Love then she finally asks him if he ever loved a girl named Alma Mereminski. Leo, instead of being able to respond to Alma's questions with words, keeps tapping his fingers twice against her. She puts her head on his shoulder and hugs him, and he is finally able to speak again, and he says her name three times.
I really recommend this book to everyone, even to who's not a hopeless romantic because this is a great novel and Nicole Krauss is a real, vivid talent.